We’re about a week away from heading down to New Orleans. In addition to working with Habitat for Humanity in St. Tammany Parish, we will be experiencing the history and culture of New Orleans. And in looking ahead, we will have plenty of opportunities to do just that.

Lower Ninth Ward, March 2010

You’ll be arriving in Slidell next Saturday. If you arrive early enough, we can go into the City. If it a little later, there is a fire pit where we are staying. We can can hang out. Rest after 30 hours on the road. And be well prepared for an action packed Sunday.

On Sunday morning we will head down to the Lower Ninth Ward, ground zero for flooding from the levee failures after Hurricane Katrina. We’ll head to the intersection of Tennessee and Galvez, once the center of a vibrant and close-knit community.  Much of it was washed away in August 2005 and of the all the neighborhoods hit by Katrina, it has been the slowest to be rebuilt.  Many of the houses near the levee are the product of Brad Pitt’s Make it Right initiative. The houses are innovative and sustainable. And other charities have built houses in the Lower Ninth.  Development has been slow, but it is being recognized as a model of sustainability.

Kendra and Ronald Lewis, House of Dance and Feathers, June 2011

After that, we’ll head over to 1217 Tupelo Street, also in the Lower Ninth. There we will visit one of the most personal museum collections anywhere. We are going to visit Ronald Lewis’ home grown museum, the House of Dance and Feathers. Long before Katrina, Lewis, who spent years repairing street car tracks, began collecting Mardi Gras Indian and Second Line memorabilia from the Lower Ninth of his birth. Remarkably, much of his collection survived the flood. And since, he has built a place for people to come and appreciate his handiwork and the work of others.

Afterwards, I’ll turn you loose. I suspect most of you will head over to Metairie for the St. Patrick’s Parade. There you find beads and catch cabbages. As fun as that sounds, I’ll likely be off chasing a Second Line parade (I plan to catch the Irish Channel St. Patrick’s Parade on March 17th). In the evening, we’ll meet with our friends from UNH Intervarsity for a concert  by New Orleans born singer, song writer, guitarist Paul Sanchez. I saw him for a brief set with John Boutte several years back, so I’m looking forward to hearing him again.

St. Patrick's Day Parade, March 2010

Uncharacteristically,  we have Monday off, so we will make full use of it. I’d like to hit the City early so we can visit some of the cemeteries. Afterwards, I’ll leave it up to groups. Whether you want to kick around the French Quarter, take the ferry to Algiers, or ride the streetcar uptown — it’s up to you. All I know, we have to back out in Slidell by 1:30pm for a swamp tour on the Pearl River watershed.  Hopefully, it will be warm and sunny so that we get bored seeing alligators and other reptiles.

Afterwards, I suspect we’ll head back to the Peace Mission Center, have dinner, gather around a fire, and call it a day. Stay tuned for Part 2. I’m still looking at what music is playing week after next.